Concordia University




Transformative Responses to COVID-19

SHIFT is allocating $50,000 to support socially transformative initiatives that are responding to the circumstances created by the global pandemic.

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Photo by Max Di Capua on Unsplash

In response to the evolving context of COVID-19, we are launching a temporary and accelerated funding program to support socially transformative efforts that are taking place during a truly transformative time.

The purpose of this new program is two-fold:

1. To support socially transformative projects that respond to community-identified, crisis-related needs in the short-term, while having the potential to impact systemic injustice, inequity and unsustainability in the longer-term

2. To support socially transformative projects that will assist in recovery from this crisis, rebuilding systems and structures in ways that move us in the direction of a more just, equitable and sustainable future.

SHIFT's working definition

Social transformation is an intentional process of systemic change to address not only the symptoms but the root causes of inequity, injustice and unsustainability.

A project that has a transformative social impact is one that brings about change at the level of a whole system - impacting social norms and beliefs, resource consumption patterns, rules and practices, technologies and infrastructures, and/or the distribution of power.

Program details

  • There is a total of $50,000 of funding available.

  • The funding cap per application is $5,000.

  • Starting April 20, 2020, a maximum of $10,000 will be awarded per week. The program will continue until all the available funding is distributed.
    Final Application Deadline: Wednesday, June 3, 2020

  • You can consult a list of the projects we've funded to date here.

Application process

  • The application form is available here. If you have any questions or need support filling out the form, please get in touch.

  • You can apply at any time. Our team will aim to provide you with a response within 10 business days.

  • If selected, you or your organization will receive the allocated amount in a lump sum paid by cheque. Cheque processing will take 4 - 6 weeks. Any cheques made out to individuals will count as income and may have implications for taxes, social assistance or emergency response benefits.


  • This funding is open to individuals, organizations, or informal groups who are working to contribute to social transformation within the greater Montreal area.

  • Projects can be currently underway or just getting off the ground.

  • Please note: This program is not intended to support urgent service delivery at the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. While services related to emergency health care, food and shelter are crucial at this time, they require support and coordination at a much higher level than SHIFT can provide. We encourage organizations who are actively involved in emergency response efforts to refer to Centraide of Greater Montreal’s Emergency Fund.

Selection criteria

  • Clarity of vision and purpose: Is the description of the idea or project clear and is there a clear plan for how the team will achieve their objectives?

  • Real-world impact: If realised, will the project have tangible benefits in the short, medium or long term?

  • Potential for social transformation: Does the project help create the conditions for systemic change in ways that will make our society more just, sustainable, and/or equitable?

  • Feasibility: Is the project’s scope reasonable and likely to succeed?

Results to date

Number of projects funded: 8

Funding distributed so far: $36,000

Average funding per project: $4,200

Amount of funding remaining: $14,000

Supported projects

Kabit-Bisig Laban Covid: A connection hub providing for the emergency needs of family caregivers, temporary workers and newly arrived immigrants in the Filipino community while connecting them to advocacy resources and information in their own language about their rights as workers in Canada. SHIFT Support: $5,000
Read more about Kabit-Bisig Laban Covid

Marché commun: A collective of media professionals will partner with a network of volunteers that emerged to offer emergency delivery services to seniors during the pandemic to create a non-profit or cooperative delivery service that prioritizes workers rights and the needs of local businesses. SHIFT Support: $3,000
Read more about Marché commun

Ageing + Communication + Technologies Grocery Response NDG: Seniors facing the double burden of social isolation and low access to internet are being supported in accessing a range of community services using low-tech tools, while project organizers raise awareness about the risks created by policies that make essential services only available online and the need for low-cost internet services. SHIFT Support: $5,000
Read more about Ageing + Communication + Technologies Grocery Response NDG

Access to Justice for Refugee Status Claimants: A local lawyer who came to Canada as a refugee himself will provide services to refugee claimants of African origins so they can access essential information in their own languages during the crisis, and work towards establishing more resources to reduce the systemic injustice experienced by African refugee claimants in Canada. SHIFT Support: $5,000
Read more about Access to Justice for Refugee Status Claimants

Time to connect: A community organization will provide access to and nurture a virtual communication network between low income single mothers, connecting them to one another throughout this period of confinement in order to continue their empowerment-based programming that aims to break the cycle of poverty. SHIFT Support: $3,000
Read more about Time to Connect

Fil Collectif / Collective Thread: Building from a resident-led mutual aid group, this project will provide Parc Extension mothers with the tools and materials needed to start small businesses producing reusable masks. In addition to creating opportunities for at-home, paid work for marginalized women, distributing the masks in the neighbourhood through local community organisations will increase the health and safety risks of low income residents. SHIFT Support: $5,000
Read more about Collective Thread

Sharing Stories from the Underground: The Solidarity Across Borders network will organise media and digital communication training to support non-status migrants in sharing their stories, raising awareness about unsafe working conditions, lack of access to healthcare and precarious legal situations that contribute to their systemic discrimination. SHIFT Support: $5,000
Read more about Sharing Stories from the Underground

NDG Cares: A resident-led solidarity project to build a community garden that will enable members of the socially and geographically isolated St Raymond’s neighbourhood to build community, beautify their own green spaces and grow their own food. SHIFT Support: $5,000
Read more about NDG Cares

More project descriptions coming soon.

Our commitment

We are witnessing a global effort to think creatively while responding to the demands of an unprecedented situation. As this pandemic continues to unfold, it is becoming more and more clear that this crisis, and all of the responses to it, will drive transformative change, the nature of which is still to be determined.

In response to this reality, and aligned with our vision and values, we are launching this program with a commitment to listening to and learning from individuals, organizations, researchers, and communities along the way. We will be receptive to feedback and will do our best to remain as agile as possible.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please be in touch.

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